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Butuan health exec sues Caraga News Courier for libel


Hidalgo                                                                                                                  Photo courtesy of Butuan City PIO

City Health Department Head Dr. Joyce Hidalgo on Monday last week filed a libel case in the Butuan City Prosecutor’s Office against the Caraga News Courier, for reporting that he was fired as chairman of the City’s Bids and Awards Committee (BAC).

Named respondents were News Courier editor-in-chief Franklin A. Caliguid and Butuan City information officer Eldie David.

In the August 9 report, the online newspaper named Hidalgo as head of the bids committee who was replaced by Butuan Mayor Ronnie Vic Lagnada as part of the revamp in the city procurement team.

The report was based on interview and document provided by David that was cited as the news article’s source.

In a speech during his Report to the City on August 2, Lagnada demanded the resignation of all members of the city procurement team in the wake of the discovery of alleged anomalies in the bidding and procurement processes in the city government.

In his five-page complaint, Hidalgo claimed that there was deviation in the facts and that the article, which insinuated he was the chairman of BAC, made it appear that he was “fired and terminated from government service for some irregularities, corruptions and anomalous transactions” in such committee.

Hidalgo said: “This was maliciously published by the respondents with actual knowledge of falsity, for the reason that I am not the Head of BAC, I am just a member in such committee as Vice Chairman. I never committed any irregularities nor any anomalous transactions, while acting as member of such BAC.”

“I am not the head nor chairman of such BAC, it is Armando A. Perez, Sr. and in fact he retained his position as head of such office, he was not a replacement of me as maliciously published by the respondents,” he stressed.

Hidalgo further claimed: “There was no firing nor termination of any officers and employees in such Office for some alleged irregularities , corruption and anomalous transaction. Our City Mayor merely suggested for a courtesy resignation to all officers and members of BAC. That upon hearing such order by our City Mayor, I immediately tendered my courtesy resignation in such office as vice chairman, after being designated by the City Mayor himself, which is an additional work load and responsibility in my part, I being the incumbent head of our City Health Department.”

Hidalgo maintained that the assertions against him in the article were “malicious and published by the respondents with actual knowledge of falsity.”

He claimed that the article maliciously imputed to him a crime and a circumstance causing him dishonor, discredit or contempt both as a government official and medical doctor as well as mental anguish and public ridicule.

And for the alleged damage to his reputation and emotional distress caused by the article, Hidalgo said he was entitled to a P1 million compensation.

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